Do you doodle? I do! I’m bad about sitting in a meeting and doodling all over my notes. But apparently, I’m not alone. There have been some really famous doodlers like John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Gates. I am happy to have something in common with these guys!
Apparently doodling is not a bad thing. When we doodle our mind is very active according to Jackie Andrade, a professor at the University of Plymouth. She did a study where two groups listened to a tape of a boring phone conversation. One group was given paper and pencil and encouraged to doodle while listening to the tape while the other group was given nothing. Afterward, she tested each group’s recall of the information on the tape. The doodlers remembered 29% more of the information in the conversation than the non-doodlers did in a surprise memory test. Andrade believes that doodling while we work can actually help you remember!
Why is doodling a good thing? Andrade says we need to look at how our brains function when they’re bored. Contrary to popular belief, when we’re bored, our brains are very active and using lots of energy. The brain is designed to constantly process the millions of bits of information is it constantly being bombarded with. But when the brain finds an environment with little stimulation, it starts looking for something to think about. This is what happens when we begin to daydream which wastes a huge amount of brain energy. But doodling provides just enough stimulation to our brain during a task we find boring and prevents us from daydreaming. Doodling doesn’t take away from concentration and can keep us from daydreaming and losing track of what is going on around us.
So how does this play out in the classroom? Should we encourage our students to doodle while listening to a lecture or watching a video? Actually, one of the greatest strategies particularly for our visual-spatial kids to recall information is to take pictorial notes which we might consider minds-on doodling.
In September, several of the gifted specialists attended a session at the Alabama Association of Gifted Children conference on a form of doodling called Zentangling. Apparently, this is a trademarked form of doodling. Once you begin “tangling,” you are hooked. Some of the gifted specialists have had their students “tangle” brains, their names, and even pumpkins for Halloween and they’ve come up with some pretty awesome products. If you’re interested in having your kids get into “tangling,” check out the books below: